Audit report from Greenland on nurses’ tasks and perceived competency.

Jørgen Nexøe, Ella Skifte, Birgit Niclasen, Anders Munck

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Despite all efforts, recruitment of healthcare personnel has become increasingly difficult in Greenland as in other remote areas. The aim of this observational study was to describe the extent of health care delivered by nurses in Greenland’s healthcare system. Reasons for encounter, diagnostic procedures, treatments and need for a physician’s assistance, as well as the nurses’ self-perceived competency, were also analysed.
Methods: A total of 42 nurses registered all patient encounters for 10 days in late autumn 2006 in 14 out of 16 healthcare districts in Greenland.
Results: Nurses treated 1117 encounters (60%) singlehandedly. The nurses felt competent in what they were doing in 1415 encounters (76%). In 525 encounters (31%), a physician’s advice was sought. Either the physician was asked to come or the physician’s advice was obtained by telephone. In four cases the nurses did not feel completely competent, but did not seek advice from the physician on call. Feeling competent did not depend on length of experience in Greenland.
Conclusion: In Greenland, nurses independently receive, diagnose and treat a substantial number of primary healthcare patients. The nurses take care of the patients and perform a number of clinical and laboratory procedures with great confidence. There has been speculation that part of the difficulty in recruiting doctors and healthcare personnel in remote areas may be due to uneasiness about professional responsibilities and, to some extent, lack of confidence. At least among the registering nurses in this study, this did not seem to be a problem.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRural and Remote Health
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1909
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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